Change Management #4 – People: Building a team with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Gary Monti on February 16, 2010

Your journey through change can have a great deal in common with the experiences of Dr. Jekyll’s friend, Mr. Utterson from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Mysterious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Like Utterson, you see strange behaviors emanate from areas managed by people whom you’ve come to know and trust. At first there is a wondering if some outside force is affecting the person. A concern, a desire to check in and offer help sets in. Eventually the awareness develops that the strange behavior is coming from the trusted person himself.

Your plate was already full with external challenges. Now the human terrain in your organization is changing as well! (For more on terrain changes see the Leadership blog ). Let’s briefly explore this human terrain and examine Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, their dilemma, and possible solutions.

Dr. Jekyll

Normally, we all want to do well and fit in socially. We are wired that way at birth. An interesting twist to that wiring is it varies from person to person. We each are whole and have free will but we have a neurological bias towards how we see the world and process information. This means some tasks we take to naturally and others are more challenging.

For example, one person may be great with big ideas while another person excels at running things on a day-to-day basis. If we are lucky the parts of our psyche where we excel are consistent with what our parents, teachers, etc., consider good and get emphasized. That is Dr. Jekyll. He feels complete.

We launch our career and settle down to a particular life style through which we move as Dr. Jekyll. But what about those other parts? Do they just lie around? Hmmm…let’s explore.

Mr. Hyde

While Dr. Jekyll is developing, the undesirable or more challenging parts get pushed into the shadows as if they never existed. That is the Mr. Hyde. The longer Mr. Hyde is pushed down the greater the fear associated with using those traits.  Remember, Dr. Jekyll feels complete and in control. To compound things, the developing Mr. Hyde takes extra effort since traits are weak from under-development. The stage is set for the dilemma.

The Dilemma

People tend to migrate to positions emphasizing their Dr. Jekyll. It can be very upsetting when the business demands complex changes requiring Mr. Hyde to be invited to join the team.

Take the Dr. Jekyll examples from before. A team member may simply want to know what the rules are and his eyes glaze over at the thought of a strategy meeting. A manager excellent at strategizing gets bored with details.  Neither cares much for how the other operates. This aggravates you because with complex terrain changes you need associates to understand and work with each other – to at least see things through the other person’s eyes.

The Solution

The solution lies in your leadership. You may recall the executive map, compass and navigation method from the previously-mentioned Leadership blog. Navigating changing business terrains require everyone’s eyes and ears to build a credible map and plan. There is no telling what will be the source of valuable information. Blind spots are the kiss of death. Cross-training will help immensely.

Using the magnetic north of your executive compass, values and beliefs, can help. If associates have the same magnetic north then tap the bond present. Use the positive stress of what they can achieve to encourage them to overcome the negative stress of bringing Mr. Hyde out of the shadows.

Timing is important. Decisions must be made. Similar to the samurai in Morphing Organizations post your best decisions flow from a detached, empathetic awareness of the overall picture.

Determine the limits of what you can risk. With limited resources the solution will probably comprise some combination of:

  • Supporting individuals in bringing more of the positive aspects of Mr. Hyde’s skills to the table;
  • Adjusting the timetable for achieving goals to match the rate of change people can sustain;
  • Bringing in outside resources to replace or augment current team members;
  • Deciding to cancel or delay achieving some goals because the terrain is shifting too fast or the opportunity will disappear by the time the team is ready to work;
  • What could be most harrowing and exciting, jumping to a new business terrain.

There are threats and opportunities associated with all these strategies. By sticking with your values and beliefs a plan will show itself.

In the next blog tips will be presented for creating a successful project.

I find this topic fascinating. If you do too and would care to comment or would like more information send me an e-mail at gwmonti@mac.com or go to www.ctrchg.com.

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